On Sunday 4th October at 4.05 pm local time, fifteen runners will go to post for the 99th running of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, with a total pot of 3M Euros prize money. One of them is the mighty mare Enable, who will attempt to become the first horse to win the French showpiece three times.
Enable’s first victory in the race was at Chantilly in 2017, where the Arc was run while its traditional home, Longchamp, was under renovation. In 2018 she just held on from the fast-finishing but ill-fated Sea of Class, but last year, on very soft ground, she was headed close home by the 13-1 shot Waldgeist, who we selected as the each-way value in the race.
Can she register the hat-trick and put her name in the record books?
To answer that, let’s first take a look at the key Arc trends.
- The draw in the 1m4f (2400m) all-age event is important. While the race can be won from a double-figure wide berth, a low draw is usually a big advantage. Interestingly, five of the last eleven winners have been drawn either 2 or 6, with ‘lucky’ stall 6 providing three winners in that period, including Enable in 2018. Last year’s winner, Waldgeist, was drawn 3, and the first three home all had single figure draws.
- Regarding age, three-year-olds, (who receive weight from their elders), do the best, winning 20 of the last 30 renewals. Waldgeist was well-drawn but he did buck an age trend in that he was only the third five-year-old to win since 1975. Furthermore he was also only the second male winner of the race since 2010.
- Three-year-old fillies have a distinct advantage at the weights as they receive both an age and sex allowance. It’s worth noting that fillies have won seven of the last nine Arcs: ladies as we know, always love Paris.
The ideal profile of a modern Arc winner is therefore, a three-year-old filly with a low draw, but as last year showed, sometimes just ticking one of those boxes will suffice. The going on Sunday will also be an important factor. It’s currently ‘Very Soft’, with further rain forecast for the weekend, so conditions could be extremely testing by race time, putting a much greater emphasis on stamina.
Now let’s take a closer horse-by-horse guide at the fifteen runners.
1.PERSIAN KING 4 y-o colt, Drawn 3. Odds: 12-1
Raced mainly at around 1m/1m1f, so needs to prove stamina, especially on the ground, but trained by the Arc maestro, Andre Fabre, who has won the race eight times (including with Waldgeist last year), so has to be respected.
2.ROYAL JULIUS 7 y-o horse. Drawn 8. Odds 66-1.
The going on Sunday increases the chances of a surprise winner but this one doesn’t look like he’ll be good enough to win and he was well beaten on his last three runs on Very Soft or Heavy going.
3. WAY TO PARIS 7 y-o horse. Drawn 6. Odds 33-1.
Has a plum draw and will stay, not an ideal age, but has been in the form of his life this season, likely to improve on his 11th place in this in 2018 and could feasibly run into a place if all goes well.
4. JAPAN 4 y-o colt. Drawn 10. Odds 14-1.
Finished a creditable fourth last year from a double-figure stall, that came after three straight wins though and he has not been in anywhere near the same form this season. A return to Longchamp and testing conditions could well spark a revival so dangerous to rule out, but once again he’s not got an ideal draw.
5.SOVEREIGN 4 y-o colt. Draw 10. Odds 66-1.
Likely to be the Ballydoyle pacemaker- they have won in the past so can’t entirely rule out, especially when you remember his 33-1 2019 Irish Derby win. He won as a juvenile on the only previous occasion he encountered heavy ground so might well outperform his long-odds.
6. STRADIVARIUS 6 y-o horse. Draw 14. Odds 13-2.
Brilliant stayer (winner of the last three Ascot Gold Cups), and the rain will help bring his abundant stamina into play, been well-backed for this and a big run looks on the cards, but could have been better drawn.
7. SOTTSASS 4 y-o colt, Draw 4, Odds 8-1.
Been well backed in recent days and not hard to see why, he was a staying-on third in this last year and his whole campaign this year seems to have been geared around Sunday. He’ll relish the step back up to a mile and a half having been campaigned over shorter all season, and rates a big danger to all from his low draw.
8. ENABLE 6 y-o mare. Draw 9. Odds 5-4.
Magnificent mare bids to become the first horse to win this three times, clearly a very worthy favourite and the one on the form book that they have to beat, but ground not ideal- (was outstayed on ’Very Soft’ last year) and the rain that is expected to fall over the weekend - if significant-might just be the difference between history being made and gallant failure.
9.DIEDRE 6 y-o mare. Draw 12. Odds 50-1
Japanese raider who caused a shock in a Group 1 at Goodwood in 2019 but hasn’t been as good this year, and the very soft ground and high draw are not in her favour.
10. GOLD TRIP 3y-o colt. Draw 9. Odds 33-1.
A close-up third behind Mogul in a Group One over course and distance in September and has good form in testing conditions; needs to improve again but gets the 7lbs age allowance so not hard to see him running well and, at best, being placed.
11. CHACHNAK 3 y-o colt. Drawn 13. Odds 100-1.
Has only won at Group Three level and stamina far from assured, so looks up against it, especially from his high draw.
12. IN SWOOP 3 y-o colt. Draw 1. Odds 9-1.
Has only had the four runs, won the German Derby on good-to-soft ground two runs ago and followed that up with a staying-on second behind Mogul in the Group One Grand Prix de Paris over course and distance on 15th September. Needs to improve again, but going the right way and is well drawn so has to be considered.
13. MOGUL 3 y-o colt. Drawn 3. Odds 11-1.
Best performance of the year was when winning over course and distance three weeks ago, probably won’t be aided by the rain though and that tempers enthusiasm from a win perspective, although he does have a good draw.
14. SERPENTINE 3 y-o colt. Draw 15. Odds 12-1.
Epsom Derby winners have landed this in 1995 (Lammtarra), 2000 (Sinndar), 2010 (Workforce) and 2015 (Golden Hind) so that’s a trend in his favour, he was disappointing when ridden with more restraint over course and distance latest, but has been supplemented for this, so better showing not ruled out, however he’s not been favoured by the draw.
15. RAABIHAH 3yo filly, Draw 2. Odds 12-1.
Carries less weight than any of the other runners as the only three-year-old filly in the race, that advantage should count for even more in testing ground, and when you throw into the mix her pedigree (daughter of 2009 winner Sea The Stars), her good draw and her recent form (a staying-on second behind Tarnawa over C & D in the Prix Vermeilles), she has to be shortlisted.
VERDICT: Another great renewal and what a pity there’ll be no crowds at Longchamp to witness what should be a very exciting race. Enable is a worthy favourite and while she remains the one they have to beat on her record in the race (two wins and a close second), at the respective odds, preference is for last year’s third Sottsass, who looks primed to improve on his 2019 finishing position. Raabihah has plenty in her favour, and In Swoop is another for the each-way shortlist, while at really long-odds Sovereign might give his supporters a good run for their money.
Elsewhere on the card Glass Slippers, looks to have a good chance of repeating last year’s win in the Prix de l’Abbaye (5.25), while Air De Valse, who won the Prix de Petit Couvert over C & D last time and Keep Busy, who won on heavy on his only previous trip to France, are each-way possibles.
Tarnawa should go well in the Prix de l’Opera (4.50), while in the Prix de la Foret (5.55), last year’s third and fourth, Speak in Colours and Safe Voyage, have to be of each-way interest.
Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar
Support his Libel and Legal Enforcement Fund: